Government has availed at least US$20 million for the rehabilitation and construction of over 2 000km of roads in the next two months as it moves towards its target of rehabilitating 50 000 km by year end.

At least 21 000km have been constructed and rehabilitated since the beginning of the year.

The progress follows years of road neglect that had rendered the infrastructure impassable due to potholes.

According to an Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Report seen by The Sunday Mail, Mashonaland East Province will have 1 074km of road being rehabilitated while US$2,5 million has been set aside to work on roads in Harare between now and end of next month.

The report shows that Mashonaland Central and West provinces will have 296km of roads rehabilitated, while 342km of roads will be worked on in Matabeleland South Province with 111km targeted for both Masvingo and Midlands provinces.

About 86km will be done each in Manicaland and Matabeleland North by the end of next month.

The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme was launched last year in March in response to the poor state of roads as a result of incessant rains during the 2016-2017 season.

However, no significant progress was registered owing to funding shortages.

The report also shows at least 18 bridges will be attended to countrywide.

According to the report: “Building on the success recorded under the programme this year, Government will sustain the level of investment to the road sector in order to reclaim our road network by 2019.

“Beyond the current interventions, Government will ensure establishment of sustainable funding for the road sector, with resources being drawn from the budget road fund as well as the private sector through joint ventures partnerships.

“A total of $20 million has been set aside for national consolidated ‘hotspots’ road projects for the period June-July 2018.”

The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme complements Government efforts to rehabilitate the country’s entire road network.

Currently, Government is receiving bids to construct and rehabilitate the country’s major trunk roads, airports and railways which are estimated to cost US$2,7 billion.

Transport expert Mr Smart Dumba commended the Government efforts, adding that a good road network was paramount in the wake of moves to revive the economy.

“This is a positive move which not only ensures that goods and people are transported easily but improves the ease of doing business which will see countries in the region using our roads,” he said.

“Feasibility studies have already been done, so I hope our road rehabilitation programme is treated with the urgency it deserves.”

Road engineers say Zimbabwe’s transport infrastructure lags 18 years behind compared to other countries in the region like South Africa and recently Zambia.

This is despite Zimbabwe being a signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Transport, Communications, and Meteorology (1996).

The agreement commits SADC states to the reform of road sector institutions, in particular the separation of responsibilities for funding, implementation, and the commercialisation of road sector activities.